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The gospel judges each culture according to its compatibility with the focus, values and goals of the kingdom of God. Due to the operation of the grace of God outside the sphere of the church, there will be aspects of culture that the gospel will affirm. There will be unfulfilled cultural aspirations that the gospel will bring to fruition. There will be demonic elements in every culture on which the gospel passes judgment.” Eddie Gibbs, ChurchNext: Quantum changes in how we do ministry

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Typically when you and I hear the words counter culture we think of the last of the three relationships the gospel has to culture, ie that of passing judgment. But Eddie Gibbs lays out well that while the gospel certainly does judge culture and in that sense is counter it, the fulfilling and affirming relationships between the gospel and culture are also part of its being counter-culture. Its counter-culture in that it takes culture to a place of development and expression it couldn’t go on its own.

By affirming culture the gospel is testifying to the common grace given to all peoples everywhere and that indeed there is truely only one God over all. That not all of life is meaningless or void of significance just because its done oustide the walls of spiritual union to God through Christ. But the gospel also is a prophetic witness to culture that even what has significance today will be gone tomorrow without being in Christ, that judgment – eternal judgment awaits the goats…

By fulfilling the aspirations of the culture around us the gospel witnesses to all women and men that the glad tidings of the coming King are really good news, the best news. That the gospel is the answer not just on Sunday’s, but on Mondays and so on. It teaches artists and musicians that God is the great artist who’s deeply interested in aesthetic images of peoples sense he has place the chief aesthetic image of himself here on earth in us.

And by judging culture the gospel reminds all women and men that this culture and those which surround it are temporary and at best archetypical of what is to come in the new heavens and new earth when men and women and creation itself is without sins presence or power. It reminds us not to make sacrosanct the culture’s values and symbols, to look beyond them to that great and final day when the Lamb of God rules in the heavenly city upon the earth. And that culture can be weilded by Satanic, counterfeit values and ends…

(Photographic art by Guille el Frandaluz, piece called “Sevilla“)